Recruitment News 2017: Diversity, Mental Health and the 457 Visa

I hope you all had a great Bank Holiday weekend! And let’s hope that the good weather is here to stay. So, back to business, what’s new in the world of recruitment?

Changes to the 457 Business Visa

Let’s begin by looking a little less local. Australia, famed for its strict and often discriminatory immigration process, has announced changes to the 457 business visa system which will place ‘arbitrary’ restrictions on small businesses.

A new ruling means that businesses with a turnover of less than $1million (~£578,000) are going to be restricted from hiring foreign accountants, event organisers; management consultants; chief executives and general managers; transport, sales, marketing and customer service managers.


Well it is claimed that this is an attempt to close the loophole exploited by small family businesses who use 457 visas to sponsor relatives and get them access to the country. However, Ged Kearney, the Australian Council of Trade Unions president claims this is nothing more than a, “rebranding exercise” which could potentially harm smaller businesses.

A sentiment echoed by Peter Strong, the Council of Small Business Australia chief executive, who said,

“I have no problem with trying to close loopholes, but a business of any size should be able to prove they … need that person.”

By simply putting a blanket ban on hiring foreign workers if your turnover isn’t above a certain threshold, the issue isn’t going to be addressed. These ‘caveats’ aren’t doing anything at all to protect the foreign worker, or prevent the abuse of the system. Really, all we are seeing is further discrimination against foreign nationals and potential roadblocks for small businesses looking to flourish.


Pret-A-Manger’s British Hiring Drive

I’ve spoken a lot about Brexit and what it might mean for foreign workers in the UK recently. But let’s look at it from a different standpoint for a minute. What does this mean for the British national?

As I mentioned in a previous newsletter we have already seen staggering drops in the amount of foreign nationals applying for jobs across all sectors, but especially in catering and hospitality. And whilst the workers are going away, the demand is not. This means that Britons are going to have to pick up the slack.

Facing potential staff shortages, Pret-A-Manger have began heavily promoting a campaign across job centres and social media in order to tempt more British workers into employment. With a study revealing that only one in 50 of their applicants was British, chief executive of Pret Clive Schlee said, “traditionally at Pret we just had our recruitment centre and everybody just came to us. Now we are preparing for the future by reaching out ourselves.”

However this is just a precautionary measure for now, as Schlee himself revealed that Pret haven’t yet seen a drop in foreign applicants. And the chief executive feels encouraged by recent talks of a potential ‘barista visa’, which would allow young EU nationals to enter the country to work in coffee shops and bars.
As we look to a future removed from the EU, it’s our opinion that specialist visas that encourage migrant workers are an absolute must. The UK economy thrives on its injections of citizens from the continent, and the government would be foolish to ignore such contributions based on a sense of – what? – national pride?


Will Artificial Intelligence Improve Your Career?

A recent report from jobs recruitment and employment agency Adecco has revealed that almost half (48%) of employees think that AI will make a positive impact on their careers and work, allowing them more freedom and flexibility.

The report, rather ominously named ‘Humans vs Robots’, was based on responses from 1000 senior level decision makers and 1000 junior employees across 13 sectors in the UK.

And although there seems to be a great deal of trepidation about ‘robots stealing our jobs’, it seems that a lot of this may merely be media hype. Sixty-five percent of respondents thought that technological developments had actually increased the number of jobs available, and 54% believe that tech will continue to create more jobs over the next 10 years.

Continuing, 87% believe that computers will make their jobs easier over the next decade, with over half claiming that with new tech their jobs can be made a lot easier. In addition, 58% believed that by introducing robots in the workplace, they will have greater scope to choose work that they feel is a more valuable use of their time.

As the report itself states: “while robots will undoubtedly appropriate some jobs, the reality is far less doom and gloom. People are entirely capable of adapting in order to survive. It’s what we do. Actually, it’s what defines us. The point is, change happens; change always has happened, and it always will happen. However, as humans, we change with it, and we’re always okay. “

A little bit of positivity doesn’t hurt.
You can read the full report here.


As recruiters we are more than aware of the issues of diversity in the workplace, and even though there have been giant strides to combat the problem, a 2016 report from the Chartered Institute of Personal Development goes to show that discrimination in the recruitment process continues to be a major barrier to increasing diversity, inclusion and visibility.

The word ‘diversity’ itself has connotations pertaining to race, but the report delves much deeper, revealing more subconscious discrimination against, for instance, working parents or those with disabilities.

This flies in the face of positive reports, such as a recent study from New York’s Center for Talent and Innovation which showed that companies with a diverse workforce are 45% more likely to expand their market share, and are 70% more likely to capture new markets.

Speaking on the matter, diversity consultant Kate Headley of The Clear Company points to entrenched biases that we need to make ourselves fully conscious of. She argues that our views are so naturally entrenched in our psyches that we need to go the extra mile to identify where we are making judgments based upon bias. Though recruiters may not be actively discriminating against an individual, many simply recruit in their ‘own image’ – identifying more with those whom they share the same attributes.

So what can we do?

First of all we need to acknowledge that this is happening from the ground up. As recruiters, or as HR departments, we need to be more fervent in our evaluation of candidates based upon their skills and behaviours, consciously removing our own preconceptions from the process.


How to Handle Mental Health Issues at Work

It is often treated as the elephant in the room, with both the sufferer and the employer choosing to ignore the topic in pursuit of keeping up appearances, but there’s no two ways about it. One in four of us will suffer from a diagnosable mental health problem at some point in our lives, and 28% of all diseases in the UK are mental health diseases. Worrying stats from Time to Change also suggest that 95% of employees that call in sick with stress gave a different reason for fear of reprisals.

So as an employer, how are you addressing mental health in the workplace?

First of all we need to look at the root of the problem. A recent study from Canada Life Group revealed that 57% of those surveyed had suffered from mental health problems at work. But why is this the case? For many, stress, anxiety and depression can be brought on by simply having too much work to handle.

With that in mind, it’s of paramount importance that employers, or those in more managerial roles are acutely aware of just how much work they are placing on the shoulders of their staff. And it’s not good enough to just expect the employee to tell you that. Most workers will believe that they should be capable of handling all the work given to them, and will suffer in silence for fear of being seen to underachieve, or, even worse, be replaced.

Next you need to create an open environment. Make your employees aware of the fact that they can speak up, and that there is no stigma attached to admitting that they are struggling. Of course, one way to do this is to lead by example and open yourself up. Separately, running mentorship programmes and providing counselling services will let your staff know the support is there should they need it.

Engaging those who are suffering is the next step. This can be problematic and needs to be handled as delicately as possible, however there are simple non-intrusive actions you can take to ensure the employee is being helped. Giving them the opportunity to take breaks throughout the day; giving them encouraging feedback; helping them with the areas of their work they’re struggling with are all simple measure you can take. Whilst these aren’t going to solve the issue at the core, they will help to alleviate the pressure they feel under.
Your staff’s mental and physical health should take priority above all else. So make sure they are aware of this fact and provide the support when needed.


Is Your Office up to Scratch?

And finally a survey from Furniture123. In a smart little marketing ploy, the furniture company recently asked workers what would impact their choice to accept a job offer, 53% responding that a poor working environment would be a major consideration and could spell out a refusal.

Furthermore, 50% said that the location of the office was key to their decision, 38% affirming that a lack of natural light would impact their decision.

This goes to show that employers need to be thinking about more than just the salary and company benefits when searching for exceptional candidates. You need to be considering whether the environment you’re providing is an attractive enough prospect – after all they’re going to be spending 35+ hours a week in those four walls.

Introducing different elements to the office as well as home comforts can really capture the eye at interview and leave a lasting impression. As we’re in a candidate-focused marketplace right now, it’s more important than ever for you to demonstrate to your candidates that yours is the company for them.


Did you know?

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About the author…

Nicole Debson
Director & Founder

With 30 years in recruitment, a genuine interest in people and a desire to help forge careers, Nicole has built ABL on the principle of making businesses better and that little bit more international. Seeking to help candidates navigate their career path; to help clients find the ideal employee, her hands on approach is what has moulded our company. Fluent in French, with good Spanish, and a Masters in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management, you’ll find Nicole thumbing through her well-worn copy of Jack London’s White Fang, her all-time favourite book.